job loss

Carol Smith's picture

The canary died: bankruptcy filings up

The economic fallout continues to worsen for those struggling under the double whammy of crippling debt and job loss. Bankruptcy filings are surging across the country. In Utah, Steven Oberbeck of the Salt Lake Tribune reports filings were up a "staggering 62 percent" compared with the same period a year ago. Nationally, more than 1 million people have filed for bankruptcy protection, the most since 2005.

In addition to usual bankruptcy drivers - including high consumer debt, or unpaid medical bills, bankruptcy courts are also hearing from individuals who had personally guaranteed loans to businesses, which then soured.

In the realm of economic indicators, bankruptcy filings aren't in the "canary in the coalmine" category. They're more like the rescue workers who come in after the mine's collapsed to see what's salvageable - a trend worth watching.

Carol Smith

Homelessness up in Denver; total in Oregon includes thousands of kids

Ben Bernanke says it looks like we're out of the recession, but the facts on the ground in the West say something different:

  • In Oregon, the population of homeless people who are children numbers more than 18,000, The Oregonian's Betsy Hammond writes. The numbers are highest out in the countryside (where, as InvestigateWest's Rita Hibbard noted earlier today, it's also hard to find medical care because of a shortage of doctors.) The 14 percent increase in homeless kids this year stems from foreclosures and job losses, of course.
  • In Denver, the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless just released a report showing that in a seven-county area centered on Denver, more than 11,000 homeless people were counted using a new census technique. Forty-four percent were homeless for the first time, Catherine Tsai reports for the AP.

    While the new counting method makes comparisons to previous years perilous, consider this: The count was done on Jan. 27. So in the dead of winter, in a really cold place, this country was unable to find homes for thousands of its citizens.

So while the official economists' definition of a recession may no longer apply, there's still a whole lot of pain out there, Mr. Bernanke. We can see it from the Pacific coast to the crest of the Rockies.